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Juraj Cintula Charged in Slovakia PM Assassination Attempt: Probing Motives Amidst Allegations of Russian Involvement

A major investigation was underway last night to try and establish the motive behind the attempted assassination of the controversial Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The gunman has been named as Juraj Cintula, a 71-year-old poet, author and vocal critic of Fico’s government with possible links to a pro-Russian militarised group.

Source: Reuters/Radovan Stoklasa

Cintula, a resident of Levice, identifies himself as a writer and is a founding member of the Dúha Literary Club. Cintula’s background also includes past employment as security guard, with reports suggesting he himself was the target of an attack in a shopping centre.

While details about his personal life remain scarce, Cintula’s son, quoted by local media, expressed uncertainty about his father’s intentions and actions, stating, “I have no idea what father intended, what he planned, why it happened.” Reports suggest that Cintula owned a gun license, as confirmed by his son.

Prior to the incident, Robert Fico voiced apprehensions about the possibility of assassination, as reported by Denník N in April.

Fico, known for his populist stance and polarising rhetoric, had previously faced criticism over his handling of the murder of a journalist, which ultimately led to his resignation. Additionally, his opposition to providing weapons to Ukraine, encapsulated by his slogan “not a single bullet to Ukraine,” stirred further controversy.

Although Fico has been described as being pro-Putin, speculation is already circulating amongst intelligence experts as to whether the attempted assassination could have been a Russian false flag operation.

One source told National Security News: “It’s far too early to say whether this is a false flag op but the fact that the question is being asked and being considered by intelligence agencies is telling. After Putin gave the go ahead to carry out a nerve agent attack in the UK, anything is possible. Time will tell.”

Russian State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin told RIA Novosti that the assassination attempt was a shot at Russian-Slovak relations, as well as his position regarding the situation in the world and Europe. “Fico knew very well that the majority of Slovaks, at least half, sympathise with Russia, despite the campaign of deception that rules the roost in Europe,” Zatulin said.

Colonel Philip Ingram, a former British Army Intelligence officer, said: “The shooting could be significant and it is critical the police identify the motivation of the potential assassin as soon as possible.”

Ingram further added, “This, just after the prison van break out in France and murder of 2 prison officers alongside the increasing unrest in Georgia, will be exploited by Putin. We will see him using his puppets inside the EU like Viktor Orban and trying to exploit any divides alongside further actions by Russia in the information domain – trying to sow even more division in the run up to the EU elections.

“We have already heard of warnings from the head of GCHQ about Russia’s desire not just for action in cyberspace but also threats of them inspiring direct action.

“This attempted assassination is destabilising and potentially dangerous.”

Cintula’s Pro-Russia Militias Links

An image circulating online, identified by Hungarian investigative journalist Szabolcs Panyi, allegedly shows Cintula participating in a march organised by an unregistered paramilitary organisation in Slovakia, Slovenskí Branci, in 2016.

Photo posted by Slovenskí Branci in January 2016 picturing Juraj Cintula (Source: Facebook/ Slovenskí Branci)

Slovenskí Branci has operated in Slovakia since 2012, originally linked to far-right ideologies before evolving towards a pro-Russian stance.

The accompanying text, attributed to Cintula, praises Slovak conscripts, expressing support and admiration for these individuals.  

Anti-Violence Movement

In 2015, Cintula attempted to initiate an “Against Violence” movement, advocating against various forms of violence, including domestic abuse, extremism, and militarisation.

Movement Against Violence Facebook page associated with Juraj Cintula, which lists his email address and features his photos. (Source: Facebook)

The movement, described as an “emerging political party” on its Facebook page, purportedly aims to “prevent war in Europe and the spread of hatred.”

According to reports, in related YouTube videos, he said “The world is full of violence and weapons. People seem to be going crazy. A number of migrants are flowing into Europe, there is hatred and extremism everywhere. But worst of all, the governments of European states have no alternative to this chaos. But that’s what a person is after all.”

According to posts on X, Cintula allegedly attended a rally in February to potest against Fico’s proposed changes to criminal law.

Reports indicate that Cintula has been critical of the Fico government, particularly regarding its handling of gambling issues and societal matters.

He is also reported to have denounced what he perceives as the “rich deviants” in Slovak society, who he said were poisoning public debate, as noted in The Telegraph.

Juraj Cintula identified in the crowd allegedly participating in a rally against changes to criminal law, aimed at reducing penalties for corruption and economic crimes. (Source: X/ @kromark)

Slovakian Markíza TV aired a video post-arrest, allegedly showing Cintula expressing dissatisfaction with government policies. In the video, he says, “I don’t agree with the government’s policies. Why are the media being targeted? Why is RTVS under attack? Why was Mazák dismissed from his position?”

Val Dockrell is a London-based Senior Investigator and Open Source Intelligence (“OSINT”) specialist who has led in-depth investigations in multiple jurisdictions around the world. She also speaks several languages and is a member of the Fraud Women’s Network. Her X (formerly Twitter) handle is @ValDockrell.